Krummacher: Christ Before Herod

Series: The Suffering Savior: Meditations on the Last Days of Christ by F. W. Krummacher (1796-1868)

[learn_more caption=”Introduction and Preface”] CMC Editor’s Note: In the following preface are the words of F.W. Krummacher introducing his readers to his work. It is our intention to post all fifty three of his meditations. Krummacher is regarded as one of Germany’s greatest preachers and was often compared to Great Britain’s C.H. Spurgeon. The reader will learn much of Christ through this series of devotional meditations on the final scenes in the life of Christ on earth. The printed work (first published 1854) has been described as the greatest single volume of the entire nineteenth century on the last days of Christ’s earthly ministry. The meditations are structured around the Old Testament tabernacle. It’s our prayer that you will be richly blessed his writings.

Author’s Preface

In the following meditations I trust I have succeeded in displaying to my readers at least a portion of those riches which are contained in the inexhaustible treasury of our Savior’s sufferings. Unmutilated scriptural truth, such as I believe I promulgate, still finds a favorable reception in the world, which I have been permitted to experience in the most gratifying manner. I mention it, solely to the praise of God, and for the satisfaction of those who are like-minded, that my writings, or at least a part of them, are, as I hear, already translated into English, French, Dutch, Swedish, and as I am assured, though I cannot vouch for the fact, into the Danish language also. My “Elijah the Tishbite” has even appeared in a Chinese attire. But that which is of greater importance, is the news I am constantly receiving of the manifold blessing which the Lord of his great and unmerited favor has bestowed upon my labors. That in his condescension and loving-kindness, He would also deign to bless this my most recent work is so much the more my heartfelt wish and ardent prayer, since it has for its subject the chief supporting pillar of the whole church—the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The division of the work into the “Outer Court,” the “Holy Place,” and the “Most Holy Place,” is intended merely to point out the different stages of the Redeemer’s sufferings, from their commencement to their close, but by no means to attach a less or greater importance to them. Had the latter been the case, I would naturally have assigned the institution of the Lord’s Supper its appropriate place in the “Most Holy Place,” instead of the “Outer Court.” But in the plan of this volume, it falls among the class of events, which immediately precede the propitiatory work of the Mediator.

~ F. W. Krummacher [/learn_more]




Meditation – XXX

Christ before Herod

“And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him.
Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate.”
—  Luke 23:11 ESV

Pilate’s clear and decided testimony that he found no fault in Jesus, did not fail of its effect on his accusers. They stand aghast, and perceive the danger which threatens the result of their whole proceedings. Had Pilate manfully maintained throughout the tone of judicial decision with which he commenced, it would doubtless have burst the fetters imposed on the better feelings of a great part of the assembled multitude, and Christ have been set at liberty, and even saluted with new hosannas; while the tumult thus occasioned might have been attended with serious consequences to the chief priests and rulers. They were, therefore, compelled to oppose such a change in the state of things by every means in their power. They consequently again raise their voices with fresh complaints. But however great the clamor they make, they do not entirely succeed in concealing the embarrassment in which they are involved. Their accusations, though uttered more noisily than before, bear evident marks of their failing courage. Instead of denouncing the Lord, as before, as a rebel and a traitor—well aware that such a barefaced charge would no longer be responded to, and convinced of the necessity of supporting it by actual proof, they bring their accusation down to the unimportant assertion, that “he stirred up the people by his teaching, which he began in Galilee, and continued throughout all Jewry.”

How easy would it have been for Pilate, by a rapid and prudent use of this favorable moment, to have triumphantly rescued his prisoner, and with him, himself and his own conscience! In order entirely to confuse and disarm his more than half subdued foes, he only needed, in a few energetic words, to have pointed out the baseness of their conduct. But fear had taken possession of the poor man to such a degree as to deprive him of the free use of his reasoning faculties, and compel him to have recourse to the most foolish measures. In the uproar, which, however, only showed the weakness of the adverse party, he imagines he hears some new storm rolling over his head, and how does he rejoice when the mention of Galilee seems to him to open a new way of escape. He hastily inquires “whether the man were a Galilean?” and on being answered in the affirmative, he exclaims with the delight of a seaman, who, after a long and stormy voyage at length discovers land, “He belongs, then, to Herod’s jurisdiction!” and immediately gives orders for Jesus to be conducted bound to the latter, who happened fortunately to be at that time in Jerusalem, on account of the festival; and he feels as if a mountain were removed from his bosom, on seeing the troublesome captive withdraw, under the escort of the chief priests, soldiers, and the crowd that followed.

We already know something of Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Galilee. He is the same wretched libertine who, after repudiating his consort, a daughter of Aretas, an Arabian king, and commencing an incestuous connection with Herodias, his half-brother’s wife, at the instigation of the latter, caused John the Baptist, who had reproved him, in God’s name, for his criminal conduct, to be beheaded in prison. For this crime his conscience severely smote him; and when he heard of Jesus and his doings, he could not be persuaded but that the wonder-worker was John whom he had murdered, but who had risen from the dead. A Sadducee according to his mental bias, more a heathen than an Israelite, and entirely devoted to licentiousness, he was nevertheless, as is often the case with such characters, not disinclined to base acts of violence, and capable of the most refined cruelties. Luke states respecting him that he had done much evil; and the only ironical expression that ever proceeded from the lips of the “Sinner’s Friend,” had reference to this miserable man, who was so well versed in all the arts of dissimulation and hypocrisy. For, on one occasion, when a number of Pharisees came to Jesus, and said, “Get you out and depart hence, for Herod will kill you,” the Lord immediately perceived that in these apparently kind advisers he saw before him only emissaries from Herod himself, who, because he had not the courage to lay violent hands upon him, hoped, by empty threats, to banish him from his territory. He, therefore, said in reply to the hypocrites, unmasking them, to their profound disgrace, as well as that of their royal master, “Go you, and tell that fox, Behold I cast out devils and do cures today and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless, I must walk today and tomorrow and the day following.”

To this degraded libertine, therefore, in whom every better feeling had been gradually extinguished, our Lord is brought, in order that he may not be spared from anything that is ignominious and repulsive, and that there might be no judicial tribunal before which he did not stand. The envenomed hosts of priests and Pharisees, with wild uproar, arrive with their prey before the residence of the Galilean king, who, on hearing what was the cause of the appearing of the unwonted crowd, orders the heads of the people, with their delinquent, to be brought before him. Jesus silently and gravely approaches his sovereign. The latter, as the narrative informs us, “when he saw Jesus, was exceeding glad; for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him, and he hoped to have seen some miracles done by him.”

It may seem strange that Herod had never before seen the face of Jesus, although he so often abode in Galilee. But the Lord had never honored Tiberias, where Herod resided, with a visit, although he had frequently been near it; and for Herod to take a single step, in order to make the acquaintance of the Nazarene, who was so much spoken of, naturally never crossed the mind of one so destitute of all religious interest, and at the same time, so proud and overbearing as his Galilean majesty. It afforded him, however, no little pleasure, so conveniently and without risk, to see his long-cherished wish fulfilled. “At all events,” thought he within himself, “it will afford an interesting pastime, an amusing spectacle. And if he will let himself be induced to unveil somewhat of the future to us, or perform a miracle, what a delightful hour might be spent!”

Herod, therefore, hoped to draw the Savior of the world into the circle of the objects of his amusement, even as he had dared to draw the head of John the Baptist into the sphere of his licentiousness. The king promised himself a recreation from the presence of Jesus, such as is expected from that of a juggler or a charlatan. In this respect, he represents those frivolous people who, according to the apostolic expression, “have not the Spirit,” and to whom even the most sublime things are only a comedy. People of this description venture to intrude even into the sanctuary, and are apparently desirous of seeing Christ, at least as set forth in sermons, books, figures, or history, but only because of the aesthetic feeling thereby excited. Suffice it to say, that to such characters, even the church becomes a theater, the sermon a pastime, the Gospel a romance, and the history of conversions a novel. O how dangerous is the position of those, in whom all seriousness degenerates into empty jocularity, and everything that ought deeply to affect them, into jest and amusement! Before they are aware, this their volatility may end in an entire obtuseness to the more affecting descriptions of the last judgment, so that no more effect is produced upon them than is caused by the success of a scene in the drama; and the representation of the horrors of hell passes before them only like the exhibition of a magnificent firework, and causes them the same kind of feeling as the latter.

Herod regards our Lord, on his approach, with an inquisitive look, and after eyeing him from head to foot, presumes to put a number of foolish questions to him. Our Lord deigns him no answer, but observes complete silence. The king continues to question him, but the Savior is mute. Herod even suggests that he ought to perform some miracle. Jesus cannot comply with his wish, and gives him to know this by his continued silence more impressively than could have been done by words. The chief priests and scribes, indignant at his passive behavior, again begin their blasphemies, and accuse him vehemently. He regards them as unworthy of a reply, and continues to observe a silence, which is distressing and almost horrifying.

The Lord having refused to do the will of Herod and his satellites, the miserable men infer from his behavior that he is unable to do anything, and begin to despise him, and even to mock him. Painful are the mortifications that Jesus has here to endure. Even the hurrying him about, here and there,—Pilate’s sending him to Herod, to show the latter a piece of civility—Herod’s returning the compliment by sending him back to the Roman governor, that the latter may have the honor of pronouncing the final sentence upon him—what degradation is inflicted on the Lord of glory in all this! But this is only the beginning of disgrace and humiliation. How much has he to endure in the presence of Herod and his courtiers, who treat him as a juggler and a conjuror! He is urged to amuse the company by a display of his are. His ear is offended by impertinent questions; and on his making no reply to them all, the measure of insult and mockery overflows. He is treated as a simpleton, unworthy of the attention he has excited, who, after having acted his part, and proved himself to be merely a ridiculous enthusiast, is only deserving of universal contempt. Herod deems it unnecessary to take any serious notice of the accusations which the chief priests vent against Jesus. He thinks that no great weight ought to be attached to the senseless things which such a foolish fellow might presume to say of himself. He is sufficiently punished for his folly by his helplessness being now made known to the whole world, and by his thus becoming the object of pity and public ridicule. He carries out these sentiments, by causing, in his jocular mood, a white robe to be put upon the Lord, in order to point him out as a mock king and the caricature of a philosopher, or, perhaps even to stamp him as a lunatic, since it was customary in Israel to clothe these unfortunate people in white upper garments.

Such, my readers, is the sacrificial fire which burns in the narrative we are now considering. And tell me how the Most Holy One, who inhabits eternity, could quietly have borne to see such degradation of the Son of his good pleasure, without casting forth the lightnings of his wrath upon the perpetrators of such indignities, if the Lord Jesus had endured this scandalous treatment only for his own person, and not at the same time as standing in an extraordinary position, and exercising a mysterious mediation? But you know that he stood there in our stead, and as the second Adam, laden with our guilt. He there heard the Father’s exclamation, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow!” Here also was fulfilled the ancient prophetic saying, “The Lord laid upon him the iniquities of us all.” “The chastisement of our peace was upon him.” Thank God that such was the case; for I should never have been able, even if an angel from heaven had brought me the intelligence, to make room for the conviction that my sins would not be imputed to me, had I not, at the same time, been told what had become of the sins thus taken from me, since I know nothing more surely than this, that my blood-red sins cannot be arbitrarily pardoned and overlooked, or even pass unnoticed as trifles of no account. Were this the case, how would it be possible for me to believe any longer in a just and holy God? But the Gospel now comes in, and tells me most clearly the history of my misdeeds, how they were transferred to him who appeared in my place; and in his intervention, I now sensibly grasp the legal ground of my absolution. The Lord stands before Herod, as he did before Annas, Caiaphas, and Pilate, not merely to be judged by men, but by God at the same time; and it is my sin for which he atones, and my debt which he liquidates.

No wonder, therefore, that he resigns himself to the poisoned arrows which here pierce his heart in its most vulnerable part—that without gainsaying he listens to the most wicked imputations, and with lamb-like patience lets himself be branded both as a blasphemer and a fanatic, a rebel and a conspirator—that he even bears with equanimity the circumstance that Herod’s expectations respecting him are gradually changed into contempt for his person—that the Lord of Glory suffers himself to be degraded so low as to become the butt of the miserable jokes of a contemptible and adulterous court. What he endures is horrible to think of; and yet it lay in his power, with a wave of his hand, to dash the reckless company to the ground. But he does not move a finger, and remains silent, for he knows that here is God’s altar, and the fire, and the wood; and that he was the Lamb for the burnt-offering.

But however deep the humiliation in which we behold the Son of God; it is nevertheless interwoven throughout with traits which are glorifying to him, and tend to establish our faith.

Even in the childish joy which Pilate evinces at the prospect of transferring the process against Jesus to another, his deep conviction of the innocence and unblameableness of the accused is more clearly reflected than in all his oral assertions. His soul exults at the accidental information given him that Jesus belonged to the Galilean tetrarchate, which teaches us how fortunate the Roman esteemed his being thus able to escape from sharing in the guilt of condemning the Righteous One.

Of Herod it was said that he was “exceeding glad when he saw Jesus.” This uncommon joy of the Galilean prince, that at last an opportunity was afforded him of seeing Jesus, face to face, is not less important in an apologetic point of view, and tends no less to the Lord’s glorification than the joy of Pilate in being happily rid of him. The Savior must have excited a great sensation in the country, and not have displayed his marvelous powers in remote corners, but in places of public resort, that Herod thus burned with desire to make his personal acquaintance. And how uncommon and unique must the Lord’s acts have been, that a man so totally dead to every better feeling, as that adulterer in a royal crown, should have such a desire!

Herod hoped, besides, that he would have seen some miracle performed by the Savior. This expectation is again a proof that Jesus had really sealed his divine mission by miraculous acts, and that the wonders he performed were universally acknowledged to be such. Herod does not intend first to try whether Jesus can work miracles, but takes his power and ability to do so for granted. But what a depth of inward corruption is betrayed in the fact that this man, in spite of his conviction of the Savior’s ability to perform divine acts, not only refuses him belief and homage, but even degrades him to the state of an object of his scorn!

The tetrarch asks the Lord a variety of questions surpassing the bounds of human knowledge. He had therefore heard of the wisdom with which the Lord knew how to reply to questions of this kind, and to solve every difficulty. Hence he involuntarily does honor to Christ’s prophetical office. And even in the circumstance that Herod did not venture to go further in his ridicule than the clothing Jesus in a white toga, when the latter observed a profound silence to his questions—he manifests a secret reverence for him, and thus proves anew that Christ must have actually spoken in an ambiguous manner of his kingdom, and of a dominion which he came to establish.

Finally, that the deep-rooted disagreement, which had so long prevailed between Pilate and Herod, was suddenly terminated and changed into a friendly feeling by the civility shown to the latter in transferring over to him the accused Rabbi, serves again as a proof how highly these men in power thought of the delinquent brought before them. The transfer of a common criminal, or even of a notorious fanatic and swindler, would probably have been attended by no such effect. But that Jesus of Nazareth was selected to mediate the renewed approximation of the two potentates, works favorably, and puts an end to all former ill-will and mistrust. Who does not perceive that this circumstance, however revolting in itself, again tends to glorify Christ in a high degree?

Something similar to that which occurred between Pilate and Herod, happens not seldom, even in the present day. Parties who most violently oppose each other in other fields of research become reconciled, and even confederates and friends, if only for a while, as soon as they join in the contest against Christ and his adorers. But what else do they evince thereby than that Christ stands in their way as an imposing power? An inconsiderable personage, whose claims on their submission they knew not to be well-founded, would never exercise such an influence over them; and finally, an individual whom they regarded as merely mythological, they would certainly put aside, as unworthy of their attention.

Whatever may be planned or executed against Jesus, he comes forth more than justified from it all. Hatred must glorify him as well as love. Persecution crowns him as well as devotedness to his cause. But if mutual opposition to him is able to transmute bitter enemies into friends; what bonds ought the mutual homage of the glorified Redeemer to cement! “I believe in the communion of saints,” is a part of our creed. I not merely believe it, but thank God! I also see it. May the Lord however preserve it; for at this present time it suffers. Those who are united in Christ, fall out with each other, because they blindly embrace some school-formula as their Savior, instead of Christ, as if they were tired of him. This is a lamentable and deplorable circumstance. May the Lord overrule it, and awaken in the hearts of his children, sentiments of real brotherly affection toward each other!



Krummacher’s work is available through Amazon.

Repentance in Acts


Repentance in Acts is not focused on what, but on who?


I was recently preaching from Paul’s missionary journeys in Acts.  As I was working with one of the passages I was struck by Paul’s use of the term “repent/repentance.”  Since this is such a critical term biblically, I decided to study all the uses of the terms in Acts.

In the Old Testament prophets, the verb “to turn” is used many many times.  Their call was for the people of Israel or Judah to turn from their alliances with other nations, from their self-reliance, from their unfaithfulness to the covenant and to turn back to God.  But what of the term in Acts?

This kind of study is always fruitful.  The methodology is straightforward:

(1) You begin by finding every use of the original term, since a partial study can always be swayed by a selective personal bias.  I won’t refer to the Greek terms here, although that is what I mean by the original term.  In this case I recognized that there is an associated term as well.  As well as to repent (verb) and repentance (noun), there is also the verb to turn used with significant overlap.

(2) Once you have all the uses, then you can look at each one in its context and see how it is being used.  I took notes in a chart that had a column for notes on what the turn or repentance was From, and what it was To.

(3) Having looked at each usage in its own context, then you can compare and see if there is any pattern or consistency.  This kind of word study could be called doing biblical theology of repentance/turning in the book of Acts.  Was there anything to note?  Absolutely.

The term repent or repentance is used eleven times in Acts.  The term turn is used in the same spiritual sense a further eight times (as well as some less relevant uses when describing the physical action of a person turning around – although there is consistency there, as will be shown).

So with all that methodological introduction out of the way, what do we find?  

As ever with this kind of study, the process is very enlightening.

There is great variety in contexts, from Peter preaching in Jerusalem, Peter & John responding to the Sanhedrin, and Peter reporting to the church on Gentile conversion, to Paul preaching in a synagogue to Jews, in Athens to philosophers, at Miletus to a gathering of church elders, and in his final trial in the book.  Once you look at the term to turn, the dispersion of uses is even more complete – James at the Jerusalem Council, Paul to the Jews in Rome in the last chapter, etc.

So looking at repentance in Acts, it is evident that repentance involves a turning from and a turning toward.  It is a call to a response that has radical implications.  But what is it a turn from and what is it a turn to?

We might expect the From column to be filled with references to sins and behavioural issues.  We might expect the To column to be filled with references to righteousness and doing good deeds, behaving well, etc.  This is not what we find.

Repentance in Acts is not focused on what, but on who?  

That is, it is not what they turned from and what they turned to, but a much more relational turn.

There are surprisingly few references to sins in the “From” column.  Actually the repentance was largely about turning from a relational rejection of God.  For example in chapter 3, Peter refers to the fact that they had delivered Jesus over, denied the Holy and Righteous One, killed the Author of Life, etc.  In Athens Paul’s critique was not of the fruit of their sin (i.e. behaviours), but of their ignorance and making god in their own image.  Twice John the Baptist’s message is referred to, but again, repentance is used to point to a relational issue – the need to turn to or believe in the One coming after him.

While it is necessary to dig around in the context to ascertain what should go in the “Repent From” column, the “To” column is even more striking.

Ten out of eleven uses are clearly pointing to a turn to a person.  Sin of rejection and sins of behaviour are forgiven in the turn, but the turn is to God.  It is not to right behaviour.  Paul in Athens, for instance, doesn’t call them to turn from bad behaviour to good behaviour.  He calls them to turn from a wrong view of God to instead seek God and find God.  Repentance is a relational turn from darkness to light.  Almost half of the time, it is connected with receiving the Holy Spirit – again a highly relational concept in terms of salvation, for the Spirit is the promised gift from God, who bonds believers to God by a relational union.

Ten out of eleven implies one exception.  There is.  In 26:20, Paul is on trial and in his presentation of repentance he offers a cluster of both terms.  In the context of the relational turn from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God, etc., he also includes the fruit of that relational turn: performing deeds in keeping with repentance.

A quick look at the use of “turn” in the salvation/gospel context shows another eight uses that are all relational turns – that is, a turn to the Lord, to God.

Repentance in Acts is a thrilling study.  

Seeing lives transformed always is.  But let’s be careful to see what is actually written, rather than imposing an alternative view.  When someone turns from sins to live a better life, that may be a good thing.  But the gospel as seen in Acts is not about God-empowered resolutions as rebels become religious in their behaviours.

The gospel in Acts, as seen in a study of repent/repentance/turn, is radical relational transformation as God-haters/rejecters turn to Him and become part of the fellowship of God’s people, united by God’s Spirit, to Christ.  And the fruit of that turn has transformed the world!


(Just in case you want to chase this study for yourself, here are the references to repentance (noun): 5:31, 11:18, 13:24, 19:4, 20:21, 26:20.  Repent (verb): 2:38, 3:19, 8:22, 17:30, 26:20.  Turn (verb): 3:19, 3:26, 9:35, 11:21, 14:15, 15:19, 26:18, 26:20, 28:27.)

~ Peter

You are invited to comment on Peter’s article at Cor Deo
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Dr Peter Mead is a Bible teacher and ministry trainer, based in southern England. His main ministry is as co-director and mentor of Cor Deo, a full-time mentored study and ministry training program.  Peter leads the Advanced Bible Teachers Network at the European Leadership Forum.  He holds degrees from Multnomah Biblical Seminary (MDiv/MA), and the Doctor of Ministry degree in homiletics from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where Dr Haddon Robinson was his mentor.  For more information on Cor Deo, including the weekly theological blog, please visit Peter also authors the website for preachers.[/author_info] [/author] [button link=”” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Biblical Preaching[/button] [button link=”” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Cor Deo[/button]